Runners on base, but not runners crossing the plate

As a team, the Nationals have 61 hits through the season's first week, a total which is fourth-best in the majors.

Ian Desmond is hitting .406 out of the leadoff spot, Danny Espinosa has a .367 on-base percentage out of the two-hole and the Nats are giving themselves plenty of chances to drive in runs.

They're just missing out on opportunities to do so in bunches.

The Nationals have gone just 3-of-16 with three walks when they've come up with the bases loaded this season, and in 17 plate appearances when they've had runner at third and less than two outs, they've only scored five runs.

"We definitely aren't taking advantage of the opportunities that we've had, but we've played well enough and pitched well enough to get away with it," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.

As I mentioned earlier, the Nats have been pitching well enough to win close ballgames. And it's definitely a positive sign that they're getting runners on base (especially at the top of the order) and giving their big bats in the middle of the lineup opportunities to pick up a big knock and post a crooked number on the scoreboard.

But so far, those crooked numbers have been few and far between.

What can be done to improve the situational hitting and try to plate more runs when guys are in scoring position?

"Just need to relax and just get the guy in from third," said veteran Mark DeRosa after the Nats' win in New York on Wednesday. "I think sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to knock everybody in instead of just concentrating on passing the baton."

"In a sense you're happy because you won, but in the same sense, you're kind of upset that we could have walked away with a blowout," Desmond said. "It's good to see that guys are just missing pitches. It's just a matter of one grain down, (the) difference between being a homer or a double or a pop up. We're close, and the fact that we're winning and close is good."

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